This tutorial on making fossil imprint stepping-stones is a selection from the book, A Woman’s Garden: Grow Beautiful Plants and Make Useful Things by Tanya Anderson. Grab yourself a bag of cement and some plant foliage and let’s get creative.
You might also enjoy this interview with Tanya discussing her history as a gardener and favorite projects from her website, Lovely Greens.
This selection from
A Woman’s Garden: Grow Beautiful Plants and Make Useful Things
by Tanya Anderson
is used with permission from Cool Springs Press.
Fossil Imprint Stepping-Stones
by Tanya Anderson
Though you can buy stepping-stones, they’re incredibly easy to make and decorate yourself. I have some made with mosaics of broken plates and shiny sea glass, and impressions of simple patterns look incredible too. One way to do this is to press foliage from the garden into the wet mixture as you make the stones. It leaves an imprint that looks remarkably like a fossil and preserves the memory of that plant for years to come.
The instructions here are for a single stepping-stone. You can use an old plant-pot saucer as a mold; if yours is a different size or you’d like to make more than one at a time, the ratio of cement to sand is 1:4. Feel free to double this recipe, but any more than that and it gets challenging to mix by hand.
- 1½ cups (355 ml) cement
- 6½ cups (2 kg) coarse sharp sand
- 1 cup (235 ml) water
- cooking oil
- 9½-inch (24 cm) plastic pot saucer
- stick or mixing spoon
- newspaper or drop cloth
- plastic gloves
Many of us have living fossils in our gardens—ginkgos, ferns, monkey puzzle trees, and horsetail
have all been around since before the dinosaurs. What’s more, they leave excellent impressions
in concrete and are a playful way of creating “authentic” fossils.
1 Grease the pot saucer with oil. Doing this will help the finished stone to pop out easier.
2 Lay your newspaper or drop cloth on the ground where you plan on working. Work outside if it’s dry and warm or indoors if it’s cold or wet. Wearing gloves, measure the cement and sand into the bucket and stir together until blended.
3 Add the water to the mix and blend it with the stick. You’re going for the consistency of wet through, but not too sloppy—like cream cheese, or the perfect mud-pie mixture.
4 Scoop the mix into the saucer, scraping as much as you can from the bucket with your gloved hands. Settle the cement in the saucer by jiggling and tapping it against the ground. Smooth the surface and edges with your gloved hand.
5 Lay your chosen foliage into the surface. I find it easiest to press it in from the stem and then use my fingers and flat hand to work the rest of it in. It should sit flush at the surface and not be too buried. If the foliage doesn’t want to lie flat, you can set a flat stone or brick on top of it. Now leave the concrete to set for an hour or two. In the meantime, wash the bucket out.
6 After a couple of hours, the surface should look a little drier. Wearing gloves, gently pull the foliage off and discard.
7 Leave the stepping-stone to cure for two days before popping it out. By that time, it will be fully hardened and dry and ready to use in the garden.
For more projects, grab a copy of Tanya’s book.
A Woman’s Garden
Grow Beautiful Plants and Make Useful Things
by Tanya Anderson
Inspiring ways to use the power of plants for home and health—with helpful growing advice and step-by-step instructions for creating over 35 inspiring projects, edibles, and art from your garden.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛